Arlington, Texas • If there’s a bottom, Utah State hopes this is it.
On Saturday night, the Aggies scraped together a season-low offensive output in a 61-46 loss to UT-Arlington on the road, its second in as many games. Utah State had to take the court without Spencer Butterfield, leaving them down to only eight healthy players who had trouble finding the nets in the team’s second loss this season to the Mavericks.
Storylines Aggies misfire in road loss
O The Mavericks hold Utah State to 30.4 percent shooting.
» The Aggies give up 16 turnovers in the game.
» Marcel Davis leads the team with 15 points.
Watching his program manage six only second-half field goals, coach Stew Morrill could hardly believe his eyes.
"We were inept offensively — we were totally inept," he said. "It’s very frustrating."
With enough injured starters to field a good team by themselves, Utah State was forced to start reserve point guard TeNale Roland in Butterfield’s place for its seventh lineup this year. Ben Clifford also took some minutes playing out of position at one of the wing spots.
The experiment had some mixed results.
Though the Aggies held the Mavericks to only 40 percent shooting and had solid defensive stretches, their shots were bouncing everywhere but inside the rim. Even on layups and open looks, the team’s aim was off.
It led to some tedious stretches without any field goals at all, including a 9-minute period that went through halftime. Morrill was beside himself.
"They’re Division I basketball players — they’ve got to step up and play better than that," he said. "I don’t know how to explain it. To me, that’s not acceptable."
USU’s shooting woes and turnovers helped the Mavericks wrestle control of the game. Utah State coughed up 10 more turnovers than UT-Arlington, leading to 15 points for the home squad. The Mavericks were particularly hot from behind the arc: Kevin Butler had a team-high 21 points on 5-for-10 shooting from 3-point range on Senior Night.
Jarred Shaw, the top scoring option left for Utah State, found himself with lots of company in the paint. He was only 3 for 11 with 11 points on the night, and his teammates had trouble shooting over the scrum in the post.
Marcel Davis had a team-high 15 points. Roland had 12 points starting for the first time since Dec. 8, but was only 4 for 14.
With only seven players dividing the minutes — walk-on Connor Garner didn’t enter — the Aggies were dragging their feet by the end of the affair.
It was the second straight regular-season sweep by a team, as Louisiana Tech had accomplished the feat on Thursday. The Aggies are likely to face the Mavericks again in the opening round of the WAC Tournament.
With Butterfield’s status unclear for the rest of the season and Preston Medlin not yet sure to return, the Aggies’ season seems closer to the brink of collapse.
With two WAC games left before a date in Las Vegas next week, Utah State can only hope that the guys they have are enough to win.
"I feel bad for those guys on the bench, because I know they wish they were out competing with us," Davis said. "We have to work hard for them."
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